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Wonderful Adventures of Nils (Pierrot, 1980-81)

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Mårten and Nils on the wing.
Source: TV
Layers: 1
No sketches available
Cel Number: A12
Standard size

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Added 12/4/2013
Updated 3/13/2018
Nils and his hamster companion Carrot are comfortably flying on the back of the wanderlusty barn goose Mårten. The rope around Mårten’s neck was originally part of a mean prank Nils played before he got shrunk, during which he made the goose pull him in a small cart. The bird forgave him in return for helping him fit into the wild goose flock they’ve joined, and the rope remains as a convenient way for the now-tiny human to climb on board.

I got eight cels from this series, a complete wingbeat, but feature here a still scan of the A12, with Mårten’s wings on the upbeat. Skip ahead to see it reanimated with the seven others. The cels were stuck to their dougas, but not badly, so you can see the matching sketch in the thumbnail.


Nirusu no Fushigi na Tabi [ニルスのふしぎな旅] is more literally “Nils’s Marvelous Journey,” but I’ve used the more usual English title in my gallery. Its original title is Nils Holgerssons underbara resa genom Sverige or "Nils Holgersson's Wonderful Journey through Sweden," so it is widely known simply as “Nils Holgersson.” The story adapts a children’s book by the Swedish author Selma Lagerlöf, the first female recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature (1909). Strongly influenced by folklore, Lagerlöf gained fame with her first novel, Gösta Berling's Saga (1891), then solidified her reputation with a series of short stories based on Scandinavian rural life. In 1902, a Swedish teachers’ organization asked her to write a geography textbook for use in public schools. The inventive Lagerlöf decided to do so in the form of a modern fairy-tale relating her nation’s history and local color in a way that would entertain as well as instruct young readers.

The protagonist, a brattish, self-centered farm lad named Nils, runs afoul of a tomte, or Swedish gnome, who shrinks the boy to his own diminutive size and gives him the power to understand what animals are saying. This is no blessing, for Nils has made himself unwelcome among the livestock by playing mean-spirited pranks on them. Finding the little monster reduced to their size, they turn on him in revenge and chase him from the premises. Luckily, a white barn goose named Mårten (or Morten) has heard the call of a flock of wild geese and decides to fly out of his pen and join them. Nils grabs hold just in time, and the two set off on an airborne adventure that takes them over every one of Sweden’s provinces.

Akka, the matriarch of the wild goose flock, is initially not happy to have a barn goose and a miniature human join her band, but they are persistent, and Nils makes himself helpful by rescuing his new companions when they get into fixes. The two adventurers get to know the individual geese in the flock, each of whom has an distinctive personality. (This fansite, by an admirer of the Israeli dub, gives a helpful list and description of Nils’s gagglemates.) Mårten gains strength and resourcefulness through his life on the road, and Nils learns to respect both wild and domestic animals as equal partners. And, yes, along the way reams of Swedish history and geography get slipped painlessly into readers’ brains.

The book was made into an animated film by Russian artists in 1955 and seven years later received a life-action treatment in its native country, using a giant mechanical goose and footage shot from helicopters. But the anime version, produced by Studio Pierrot and broadcast in 52 episodes on NHK in 1980-81, is the fullest and most widely distributed version. In addition to being dubbed into major European languages (including Swedish), it has also been dubbed in Farsi, Arabic, Hebrew, and Turkish. It follows Lagerlöf’s original story, but gives Nils a friendly hamster companion, Carrot [キャロット], who comes along on the adventure because the lad has (somewhat against character) treated him with kindness.

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Next: Nils captured by Smirre    

Curator: 60something-sensei
Gallery Created: 8/3/2002
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